Scout.com ranked Thomas a "four-star" player and the 12th ranked offensive linemen in the nation. He was named to The Associated Press Division I All-Ohio Team (first team). Joe led St. Edwards to an impressive 12-1 record and the semi-finals of the Ohio Division I playoffs.
Thomas is known for his physicality and nasty attitude on the football field. He was listed at 6-foot-4 ½ inches and 285 pounds throughout his senior season. It appears he has grown considerably in a short amount of time.
"I'm up to 6-foot-6 inches tall and I weight around 310 to 315 pounds right now. I'm solid, I'm not fat at all," replied Thomas. "My brothers and sisters are tall and all of them had a growth spurt after high school. My older brother grew three inches right after high school. I could get taller by my freshman or sophomore year at Pitt."
Thomas was recruited to play guard. At a towering 6-foot-6 inches tall, he was asked if a switch to tackle might be in his future. "Yes, I have talked about it with the coaches at Pitt. It's definitely possible. I have played tackle and guard in high school. The transition for me won't be too bad," he said.
Joe recorded 68 knockdown blocks as a senior (offensive tackle) and gave up one sack in 13 games. He was selected to The Plain Dealer All-Star Team.
Thomas has been diligently preparing for his freshman season. He hits the gym four times a week to lift weights and he run one to two miles a day. "I was sent the work out regimen from Pitt. I attempt to complete their workout and do a little more on top of that," said Joe.
When asked about his short term goals, he was quick to reply, "I want to get to Pitt, get comfortable and learn the system. I need to get used to the speed of college football. I want to work really hard and climb the depth chart. My goal is to start. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later."
Thomas believes that the Panthers' class of 2006 will put the University of Pittsburgh back on the "college football map". Despite the myriad of blue-chip players joining the football team, he was quick to highlight the importance of the linemen and their importance to the Coach (Dave) Wannstedt's rebuilding efforts.
"It all starts in the trenches and I realize I'm part of that," stated Thomas. "We need guys that are going to bring a tough, physical mentality to the team. Pitt is in the process of changing from finesse football to power football. I want to help in that transition."
"I line up across from a guy, hammer him and knock him on his ass. We need to do that on every down. My future roommate, John Malecki, feels the same way. The two of us are going to bring that mentality to both sides of the football."
Thomas is in the process of arranging a six man suite for his freshman season. "I have been talking with John (Malecki), Dexter (Davidson), Jared (Martin) and Kevin (Collier) about rooming together," he said. "I think it would be fun to have a larger group to live with. I know John and I will room for sure. That should be fun. He's really a crazy guy."
"My long term goal, along with the players coming in with me, is to get Pitt back to a consistent top 10 or top 15 status. Our recruiting class wants to turn the program around and play for championships. Yes, we want to win a Big East championship, but we're going to shoot for a nation championship as well."
Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at email@example.com.